Though we're all for pulling out all the stops for the occasional wildly impressive dinner, most weeknights we're looking for something cheap, easy, and fast. These recipes hit all three criteria, with ease. You don’t have to drop major dough to make something delicious that can be on your table in an hour or less—save money by choosing cheaper proteins (we’re talking chicken, ground beef or turkey, or vegetarian options) and time by making these dishes all in one pan, in your fave kitchen appliance, or via some of our top kitchen shortcuts. Whatever your style, these cheap and easy meals will please your entire family without breaking the bank.
One of the easiest ways to cut down on dinner costs is to go for cheaper cuts of meat, or utilizing more expensive ones in creative ways. Try adding ground beef, turkey, or chicken to help bulk out old standbys. Try roasting a whole chicken (or buying a rotisserie chicken), then utilizing it for everything from pizza to tacos all week long. Try adding more expensive seafood or steak to pasta or rice to help make smaller, more affordable portions go further, like in our smoked salmon pasta or our creamy steak fettuccine. It’s all about the way you use the protein that matters, not avoiding them altogether.
If you’ve been on the fence about certain kitchen appliances, like slow cookers, air fryers, and Instant Pots, consider this your sign to take the plunge and get one. They help dinners come together SO fast. We’ve got a number of creative recipes for them, like our Crockpot white chicken chili, our air fryer chimichangas, or our Instant Pot jambalaya, but check out our more in-depth lists for your air fryer (over 100 recipes!), Instant Pot, and Crockpot too.
Even if you’re not ready for another appliance, we bet you have some things in your kitchen already that’ll help you get dinner on the table fast, like sheet pans, a Dutch oven, and casserole dishes. We’ve included a number of our favorite recipes here, like our chicken pot pie casserole, our one-pot vegetarian chili mac, or our sheet pan chicken fajitas, but once you’ve got the basics down, feel free to get creative.
One of the best ways to save some money is to go meatless (and not just on Mondays). And we don’t mean by replacing proteins with all those high-priced meat substitutes (though we’re all about those sometimes)—instead we’re talking about making vegetarian meals out of cheap beans, tofu, and plants. Try our vegan lasagna, our creamy mushroom pasta, our tofu katsu curry, or our vegan crunchwrap to see how versatile and filling these meals can be.
One-pot taco spaghetti is a fast-as-can-be weeknight dinner that pairs all your favorite taco fixin’s with spaghetti rather than taco shells. Everything comes together in one pot—from browning the beef to simmering the sauce, even boiling the spaghetti!
Get the Taco Spaghetti recipe.
White Chicken Chili
Adding white beans makes this heartier than your average chicken noodle soup, and the addition of green chiles, jalapeño, and sour cream add the perfect amount of heat and creaminess to switch up classic chili. Plus, everything comes together in less than an hour!
Get the White Chicken Chili recipe.
Chicken Tamale Pie
Our simple, flavor-packed cornbread provides the perfect base for our shredded chicken, enchilada sauce, and plenty of melty cheese. If you're looking for the coziest weeknight dinner, this has gotta be next on your list.
Get the Chicken Tamale Pie recipe.
Classic Stuffed Peppers
Bell peppers are strong enough to hold their shape in the oven, and the flavor is subtle enough to go well with just about anything. This is our favorite recipe, but the customization options are endless—check out all our stuffed pepper recipes here too.
Get the Classic Stuffed Peppers recipe.
From the realms of cheesy pizza and bubbling baked pasta comes a new family favorite: pizza casserole. Loaded with sausage, veggies, and plenty of cheese, this easy weeknight dinner has all of the cheesy, tomato-filled goodness of our favorite take-out pizza, neatly packaged in a 13"-by-9" pan.
Get the Pizza Casserole recipe.
Green Chile Chicken Skillet Enchiladas
Craving homemade enchiladas and being in a hurry aren't really compatible since the classic Mexican dish requires many steps and a fair amount of time. Enter these chicken enchiladas, a quick take on the dish that comes together in one skillet.
Get the Goulash recipe.
Focusing on only 3 key ingredients, our chicken fajita recipe requires minimal prep and cook time, meaning dinner on the table FAST. Follow our classic recipe for our best-ever version or use it as a jumping-off point to experiment with your favorite proteins, veggies, and toppings.
Get the Chicken Fajitas recipe.
Sheet Pan Sausage & Vegetables
This sheet pan dinner works with whatever veggies you already have and requires basically zero effort. Most of the time spent is waiting while the sheet pan is in the oven, and there are minimal dishes to clean when it's all said and done. What more could you need?
Brown Sugar BBQ Chicken
Get the Brown Sugar BBQ Chicken recipe.
Mexican Chicken Casserole
Filled with a creamy sauce, two kinds of cheese, and plenty of chicken, there’s something in this dish for everyone. While this is certainly not a super-authentic Mexican dish, it does combine lots of flavors and ingredients that will remind you of tacos, enchiladas, and your favorite Mexican/Tex-Mex meals.
Get the Mexican Chicken Casserole recipe.
French Bread Pizza
We've all been there: You're craving homemade pizza, but you want it fast—no time to deal with rolling out finicky pizza dough. The solution? Grab a loaf of French bread, and get ready for the pizza hack of a lifetime.
Get the French Bread Pizza recipe.
Crockpot Salsa Chicken
This is probably THE simplest recipe... ever? The chicken falls apart and becomes immensely tender, flavored with the familiar flavors of chunky salsa and taco seasoning, and brightened up with bursts of lime juice. Serve this over rice, in lettuce cups, as tacos...
Get the Crockpot Salsa Chicken recipe.
Tostadas might just be the perfect meal—these crunchy corn tortillas are easy to buy (or make!) AND they can act as a vehicle for whatever toppings you like. Here, that means creamy refried beans and a chile-spiked shredded chicken topping, but feel free to get creative.
Get the Chicken Tostadas recipe.
One-Pan Salsa Verde Shrimp & Rice
Use your favorite jarred or homemade salsa verde to make this extremely easy and flavorful dish. Everything cooks in the same pot for a mess-free and, most importantly, quick weeknight dinner. It's about to be one of your new favorites.
Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin
Juicy pork tenderloin seriously deserves its own spotlight. We keep the seasoning simple here: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder. If you want another flavor profile, the world is your oyster: oregano and Italian seasoning, ranch seasoning, taco seasoning, or even just salt and black pepper will do.
Get the Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin recipe.
Mexican Beef 'N Rice Skillet
Is there anything better than a one-skillet meal? We don’t think so, particularly if it’s as family-friendly and quick as this one, featuring spiced ground beef, flavorful rice, hearty beans, and lots of cheese. It all comes together in just 40 minutes with minimal prep too!
Get the Mexican Beef 'N Rice Skillet recipe.
Tricolore Skillet Lasagna
We love a classic lasagna, but it can be a lot of work. This easy skillet version instead tosses the cooked noodles in an oniony marinara sauce, dollops them with pesto, and tops them with ample slices of fresh mozzarella and a shower of grated Parmesan.
Get the Tricolore Skillet Lasagna recipe.
A breaded fried cutlet is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and these cabbage schnitzels are no exception. Coated in crispy golden brown bread crumbs and drizzled with a luscious mushroom gravy, this vegetarian spin on a meaty classic will delight meat lovers and vegetarians alike.
Get the Cabbage Schnitzel recipe.
Instant Pot Chicken & Rice
If there's one thing we find magical about Instant Pots, it's how quickly and perfectly they cook chicken and rice. The rice is the perfect texture and the chicken is wildly tender. This is 100% the meal we cook in the Instant Pot the most often.
Get the Instant Pot Chicken & Rice recipe.
Caprese Chicken & Polenta Bake
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Instead of rolling a bunch of enchiladas, this untraditional casserole speeds up the process by layering everything together in the pan. Go store-bought or make your own homemade enchilada sauce (bonus: you can adjust the heat up or down according to your preference!).
Get the Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipe.
Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
If chicken pot pie excites you, but pie crust intimidates you, you’ve arrived at the perfect recipe. Classic chicken pot pie filling is baked into a stress-free casserole and, best of all, topped with biscuits baked to a tantalizing golden brown.
Get the Chicken Pot Pie Casserole recipe.
Chili Cheese Sweet Potato Casserole
If you think every bowl of chili should be hidden under mounds of melty cheese, this is the casserole for you. With roasted sweet potatoes and black bean chili layered together under a gooey blanket of cheese, this easy vegetarian weeknight dinner is both incredibly comforting and surprisingly hearty.
Creamy Steak Fettuccine
Whenever we crave steak but want to make it go a little further, this is the dish we make. It comes together quickly and is so full of flavor. It makes us forget chicken fettuccine Alfredo ever existed. If you want the steak without the pasta, may we suggest Cajun butter steak?
Get the Creamy Steak Fettuccine recipe.
One-Pan Chicken & Quinoa
This quick and easy dinner is high in protein and takes very little effort. We love the Tex-Mex spices here; the chili powder and cayenne add a nice kick that the avocado and sour cream perfectly offset. Want more one-skillet wonders? Try our one-pan chicken and gnocchi next!
Get the One-Pan Chicken & Quinoa recipe.
One-Pan Coconut-Lime Chicken
We paired quick-cooking chicken cutlets with a spicy-sweet coconut milk sauce that’s out-of-this-world tasty. Tomatoes (and tomato paste) bring it back down to Earth, so you can make this over and over (and over!) again.
Get the One-Pan Coconut-Lime Chicken recipe.
Baked Risotto With Lemon, Peas, & Parmesan
If you’ve never made risotto because you didn’t want to stand there stirring forever, then this recipe is for you. It packs all the satisfying flavor of a slow-stirred version into a fraction of the hands-on time!
Egg Roll Bowls
If you're a fan of crispy, savory egg rolls, then you might consider this unwrapped version your dream dinner. Without the need to wrap or fry, this veggie-packed meal comes together in well under an hour. Garnish with crispy raw scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and plenty of sriracha or chili oil.
Get the Egg Roll Bowls recipe.
Black Bean Tostadas
With only 5 ingredients, these black bean tostadas are the easiest and fastest meal to throw together. You can always include additional toppings like corn salsa, avocado ranch, or endless crunchy veggies like radishes or pickled red onions, but these are also delicious if you keep things simple, like we did here.
Get the Black Bean Tostadas recipe.
Broccoli haters—if your favorite steak stir-fry is always ruined by the inclusion of those little trees (sorry, beef and broccoli), then let us introduce you to your new favorite stir-fry: pepper steak.
Get the Pepper Steak recipe.
Arroz Con Pollo
Want something awesome for dinner but don't want to spend your entire evening cooking and cleaning? Arroz con pollo (chicken with rice in Spanish) is the the perfect recipe. It's an easy one-pot meal that doesn't taste like one, and it tastes even better as leftovers.
Get the Arroz Con Pollo recipe.
Sloppy Joe Meatball Bake
Meatballs don’t take the sloppy out of sloppy Joes, they just turn it into a whole new form. Trust us—these little ones are just as delicious as the original ground beef version. Cheesy, hefty, and super-saucy, this skillet dish also comes together in just under an hour, making it the perfect anytime meal.
Get the Sloppy Joe Meatball Bake recipe.
French Onion Baked Potatoes
Cozy, warming, and perfectly rich, our classic French onion soup is a recurring favorite. But! When we want to put those bowls away and dig into something a bit heartier, we turn to the tried-and-true potato to transform the staple soup into a filling comfort food we crave.
Get the French Onion Baked Potatoes recipe.
Chicken Nugget Parm Casserole
Craving chicken Parm but not in the mood for all the time it requires to prepare this labor of love dish? Opt for our chicken nugget Parmesan casserole instead. This comforting dish has all the cheesy flavor you know and crave, but with simple shortcuts to cut down on all that hands-on cooking time (and effort).
Get the Chicken Nugget Parm Casserole recipe.
Salmon & Potato Skillet
While the potatoes here cook, the salmon takes a quick bath in an easy marinade that will double as cooking fat in this simple dish. In just 45 minutes, you’ll have a delicious and filling meal that can be customized every time you make it.
Get the Salmon & Potato Skillet recipe.
BBQ Chicken Twice-Baked Potatoes
Missing summertime BBQ chicken? Stuff sweet potatoes with rotisserie chicken and your favorite BBQ sauce, then top them with Gouda for a healthy chicken dinner you can enjoy long into fall and beyond.
We LOVE breakfast for dinner, and one of our faves is these tostadas. The best part is you can change up the toppings every time you make them, and they'll always be an incredibly easy and delicious dinner (or anytime meal!).
Get the Breakfast Tostadas recipe.
No-Boil Baked Chicken Pasta
An ode to baked ziti, this baked pasta is amped up with chicken and spinach and features fun, twirly fusilli pasta rather than ziti. Not only does this recipe cut down on dishes, its hands-off approach adds a little breathing room to dinnertime. Win!
Get the No-Boil Baked Chicken Pasta recipe.
Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme
We're so obsessed with Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme that we have multiple copycat recipes. While we love our vegan Crunchwrap and our Big Mac Crunchwrap, we still have a special place in our hearts for the original meat-loving version. They're not Taco Bell prices, but they're still pretty dang close.
Best-Ever Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Got some leftover roasted chicken or rotisserie chicken? This pizza is the PERFECT way to use it! Buffalo sauce is one of our favorite ways to doctor our leftovers, and if you've still got some leftover rotisserie chicken, you've got to try this combo in our Buffalo baked ziti recipe.
Get the Cabbage Parmesan recipe.
Chicken Fried Rice
A traditional Chinese fried rice would be made in a wok over high heat, but we've made ours in a cast iron skillet for ease. Don't want chicken? Make it with shrimp or go vegetarian and make it with pineapple!
Get the Chicken Fried Rice recipe.
Get the Vegan Lasagna recipe.
Instant Pot Jambalaya
The Instant Pot is a great way to make jambalaya, a Cajun classic, in just an hour. All the rice, veggies, broth, and chicken go in the Instant Pot together and get cooked under high pressure for the perfect, fluffy jambalaya.
Get the Instant Pot Jambalaya recipe.
Baked Feta Pasta
Get the Baked Feta Pasta recipe.
Creamy Kale & Gnocchi Bake
Fans of creamed spinach will absolutely love this hearty, creamy kale and gnocchi bake that puts the classic side dish front-and-center on your plate with gnocchi as the main attraction. It's quick to put together since the gnocchi cook right in the sauce, making them extra-creamy and delicious.
Get the Creamy Kale & Gnocchi Bake recipe.
Copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowl
When we want a tried-and-true perfect meal, we always go back to the Chipotle chicken burrito bowl. It’s classic, reliable, and, best of all, completely customizable depending on our mood. No corn salsa? Extra guac? At home, you can have it all, for cheap!
Get the Copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowl recipe.
Garlicky Lemon Baked Tilapia
Tilapia has a very mild fish taste and is a great way to get those non-fish eaters to love it. We cooked ours in plenty of butter, lemon, and garlic to make it bright and fresh and easy for everyone to enjoy. Baking it requires very little effort with zero risk of the fish sticking to your skillet or grill. A win win!
Get the Garlicky Lemon Baked Tilapia recipe.
Air Fryer Chimichangas
Chimichangas are essentially fried burritos, which, don't get us wrong, we absolutely LOVE—but sometimes we're not all about the excess oil or messy deep frying. Make these in the air fryer instead for an exceptionally crispy burrito, with half the effort!
Get the Air Fryer Chimichangas recipe.
One-Pan Cheesy Sausage Gnocchi
This easy dinner harnesses the power of seasoned sausage, store-bought marinara, and fresh potato gnocchi to make a super-flavorful dish with minimal prep and active cooking time. Perfect for a lazy night when you're craving the 3 C’s: comfort, carbs, and cheese.
One-Pan Creamy Chicken & Gnocchi
When everything cooks together, everyone wins. The chicken here finishes cooking in the sauce, making it the easiest comfort meal ever. It's what weeknight chicken dinner dreams are made of!
Air Fryer Pork Chops
Due to the intense heat circulation that happens in the air fryer, the outside of these chops crisps slightly while the inside stays nice and juicy. Twenty minutes later—most of it hands-off time—and it's basically instant dinner.
Get the Air Fryer Pork Chops recipe.
Italian Sausage & Pepper Frittata Affogato
Breakfast meets dinner in this marinara- and mozzarella-topped dish. Fittingly, the Italian word "affogato"means drowned, which explains the marinara topping. It lends this dish a vibe somewhere between a breakfast frittata and pizza, meaning it’s enjoyable for pretty much any meal of the day.
Honey Garlic Glazed Salmon
A longtime favorite of Delish readers, this savory-sweet salmon never disappoints. Searing fish might seem intimidating but, once you get the hang of it, it'll be second nature—just follow our easy tips.
Get the Honey Garlic-Glazed Salmon recipe.
Sheet-Pan Lemon Butter Chicken Thighs
One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac
Looking for a hearty weeknight dinner? Our smoky vegetarian chili mac is here to save the day! It all comes together in one pot, and it's SUPER versatile. Throw in your favorite bean and pasta shape, melt in your favorite cheese, and top with whatever you like.
Get the One-Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac recipe.
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
For these fajitas you simply toss all of the ingredients in an easy marinade of oil and taco spices like cumin and chili powder and then bake it all together on a sheet pan (for just 20-25 minutes). Just add tortillas or rice and you're good to go!
Get the Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas recipe.
Shrimp & Snow Pea Stir Fry
Allowing the shrimp here some time to marinate adds an extra layer of flavor to really make those 5 ingredients stretch. But DON’T let that stop the imagination from flowing—just like you can swap the ingredients, you can add more as well.
Get the Shrimp & Snow Pea Stir Fry recipe.
This amazing dinner hack brings us back to college, in the best way possible. Have fun customizing the noodles with your favorite veggies and toppings, and don't doubt the everything bagel seasoning (either from a shaker or homemade)—just do it.
Get the TikTok Ramen recipe.
Smoked Salmon Pasta
Smoked salmon pasta sounds really fancy, but it's actually one of the easiest and fastest dishes we've ever made. It comes together in just under 30 minutes, meaning it's perfect for whipping up for a weeknight seafood dinner, but still good enough to impress your guests for holidays and celebrations.
Get the Smoked Salmon Pasta recipe.
Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs
If you are looking to spice up your routine chicken dinners, look no further. These chicken meatballs have a kick from a traditional kung pao sauce. These meatballs are filling on their own, but serving over rice will also help cut some of the heat!
Get the Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs recipe.
Copycat Chicken Lettuce Wraps
In our attempt to copy the fan favorite from P.F. Chang's, we flavored ground chicken with hoisin sauce (a fermented bean paste that gives the chicken the quintessential Chinese-American flavor), soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, and sesame oil. Water chestnuts add a nice crunch here too.
Get the Copycat Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe.
Classic Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp scampi is an Italian-American dish that is usually made using plump, pink shrimp served over a heaping bowl of pasta. We think the pasta detracts from the delectable simplicity of this dish, so we made it without, but feel free to add some if you like!
Get the Classic Shrimp Scampi recipe.
Garlicky Roasted Cauliflower Pasta
In this recipe, cauliflower gets mashed into a paste to create a light sauce for the pasta that adds a ton of flavor. It's simple, light, and perfect for when you want comfort without being weighed down by something overly rich.
We updated the fast food favorite to be totally vegan and completely irresistible. Creamy vegan queso dip and meaty lentils make a satisfying filling while a quick trip in a hot skillet adds crunch to every bite.
Get the Vegan Crunchwraps recipe.
Tofu Katsu Curry
Get the Tofu Katsu Curry recipe.
Skillet Lemon-Herb Chicken & Potatoes
Here, quick-cooking boneless skinless chicken breasts stay moist and tender thanks to pan-roasting and a tangy lemon-butter sauce. If you can't find small potatoes, feel free to cut up larger ones to about 1-inch pieces.
One-Pot Shrimp Primavera
Get the One-Pot Shrimp Primavera recipe.
Creamy Tuscan Chicken
Be sure to have some crusty bread on hand, because this sauce is KILLER. And don't skip the suggested lemon wedges—the bit of acid helps cut through all the cream!
Get the Creamy Tuscan Chicken recipe.
Creamy Mushroom Pasta
If a bowl of creamy, earthy, umami-rich pasta sounds good to you, give this flexible recipe a go. It tastes great with any variety of mushrooms, and is easily adapted with alternate alliums, herbs, nuts, pasta shapes, and hard cheeses.
Get the Creamy Mushroom Pasta recipe.
Balsamic Basil Chicken
After marinating the chicken, everything—including the veggie side!—comes together in one pan in less than 30 minutes. Call it another skillet chicken dinner win!
Get the Balsamic Basil Chicken recipe.
Get the Tex-Mex Meatballs recipe.
Get the Garlicky Spaghetti recipe.
Tuscan Butter Shrimp
Is there anything *authentically* Italian about this recipe? Nope. Is it delicious? 100%. In fact, this Tuscan butter sauce is so good, you'll be tempted to eat it straight out of the pan. (And we wouldn't blame you!)
Get the Tuscan Butter Shrimp recipe.
Crockpot Pepper Steak
We in the Delish Test Kitchen absolutely love a good stir fry, both for how creative you can be with them and how quick they can be to make. But sometimes, even stir frying is too much effort and you just want something you can set and forget, like this pepper steak recipe.
Get the Crockpot Pepper Steak recipe.
Crockpot White Chicken Chili
Our slow-cooker white chicken chili couldn't be easier, and we love the texture it takes on once the beans are partially mashed. It might feel weird to use a potato masher in your slow-cooker, but trust us, it's worth it!
Get the Crockpot White Chicken Chili recipe.
Shredded Chicken Tacos
This recipe is inspired by chicken tinga, a Mexican guisado (or stew) made of tender shredded chicken that's added to a tomato sauce spiked with chiles, onion, garlic, and spices. Top the tacos with cilantro, creamy avocado, and good squeeze of lime!
Get the Shredded Chicken Tacos recipe.
Stuffed Pepper Soup
This soup has everything you like about a classic stuffed pepper—ground beef, rice, tomatoes, and CHEESE. It's perfect on its own or served with cornbread or a salad. Feel free to switch things up too (ground turkey for beef, quinoa for rice, etc.).
Get the Stuffed Pepper Soup recipe.
Get the Vegetarian Chili recipe.
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